Rear view camera
June 8, 2009 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know if it's legal to use a rear view camera system instead of rear view mirrors? That is, to completely remove the mirrors from the car because cameras are doing the job... Question is for Ontario, Canada.

And if you're a car legal expert, I have another question. Can I build my own booster seat in a custom car in which no off-the-shelf children's car seat is available?

These questions are about a Sterling kit car by the way. Here's a bad picture of me and the car to put it into context:
posted by glider to Travel & Transportation around Ontario, ON (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: If the statutes are online (I haven't found them yet if they are) and I can read them for myself, please link.
posted by glider at 3:54 PM on June 8, 2009

Response by poster: My apologies:

Looks like the mirror regulation is fairly loose, but I don't know whether a rear view camera is legally interchangeable with a mirror?
posted by glider at 4:07 PM on June 8, 2009

I would be surprised regarding the booster seat that it must carry some sort of certification, but the place to find out is via "Your Local Public Health Unit", as they can tell you when there is an upcoming child seat inspection. The people there will be able to give you all the requirements.
posted by defcom1 at 4:48 PM on June 8, 2009

A friend of mine has installed rear view cameras. He has to keep the driver's side one for legal reasons but has tucked it against the window and removed the passenger one. He checked, as he wanted to do exactly the same as you and had to compromise like that. He is in Ontario, for reference.

Can I build my own booster seat in a custom car in which no off-the-shelf children's car seat is available?

Do you mean booster, or child seat? A booster seat is just a big, firm cushion with some guides to make sure the seat belt aligns correctly with a torso (ie a child's) that is much smaller than that which it was designed for. Use of booster seats are often recommended but not mandatory in a lot of areas, so making your own would be doable, although you'd have to do plenty of research, as this is the safety of your child (presumably) at stake.

If you mean a child seat (so for an infant), I'd be much less inclined for you to consider doing something of your own design. Proper child seats are very, very good and you won't be able to replicate that much safety easily. In addition, I'd certainly not scrimp with a kit car, as the crash safety of that is pretty damn low anyway - it won't have the crash structures and the crumple zones that a comparable car will have. If it were me, I'd not take an infant in a car like that - not at all. I can't think of a good justification for taking an infant into a car such as that - the car is lacking in basic safety (sorry, no matter how much you love it!) and the chid is most likely too young to appreciate it anyway. Why take the risk?A child of 10 or up that would very much enjoy the experience? I'd get a proper seat belt installed and use a proper booster seat which are available from most places (Walmart and all those kind of places).

And if you're a car legal expert, I have another question.

This is not a legal issue. This is a safety issue. If your only concern in building the seat is a legal standpoint, you very seriously have your priorities wrong (in the nicest possible way).
posted by Brockles at 4:57 PM on June 8, 2009

Response by poster: This is not a legal issue. This is a safety issue. If your only concern in building the seat is a legal standpoint, you very seriously have your priorities wrong (in the nicest possible way).

I don't buy into safety-obsessed culture -- the statistics as to the pay-off of car seats in terms of safety versus cost are dubious. I grew up on a farm, driving since I was a kid, as well as riding in the backs of trucks, on trailer hitches, dirt bikes, go carts, etc., and my daughter did the same until we moved to Canada from Mexico.

Walmart doesn't carry a car seat / booster for something like this. It was hard enough getting one that fit in my Porsche. I am aware of the market, and I'm aware of the safety pros and cons, and I realize that we have come to different conclusions as to what's appropriate safety-wise, so my question remains primarily a legal one.
posted by glider at 5:16 PM on June 8, 2009

Two thoughts regarding mirrors. 1) The regulation seems to require "mirrors" which probably mean reflective surfaces if there isn't an other more accommodating definition. Unless someone else has already got an exemption for cameras you'll probably have difficulty getting one as a mirror obviously meets certain metrics that you'd probably have to prove your cameras meet. Example: off the top of my head mirrors function even when your engine isn't running (so you can see behind you before exiting the vehicle or if your car quits on the highway you can make a safe lane change) and performance degrades proportional to conditions whether it's dark, raining, full sun, transition to a tunnel etc.)

2) Even if cameras instead of physical mirrors turn out to be legal either as is or with an exemption none of the cops you are going to encounter (and their will be lots of them with such a great looking car) are going to know that. Which besides giving them a reason to pull you over will generate all sorts of hassle proving it's legal. I've been there for something much more subtle (factory wheels and tires extending past the factory body work) and it's a pain in the ass even though I won every time I went to court.
posted by Mitheral at 5:24 PM on June 8, 2009

Response by poster: I have no doubt you're right about it causing a hassle with the cops even if it's legal... I've had that problem with my jacked up trucks, where cops dig for dubious excuses to ticket me.
posted by glider at 5:30 PM on June 8, 2009

I don't buy into safety-obsessed culture

I'm not talking about safety obsessed culture - I am, both personally and professionally - as far removed from that as you can imagine without quite needing to be termed 'irresponsible'.

Your car is very (to extremely) lacking in basic crash safety - both primary and secondary. To further increase that issue with a home made safety seat is entirely irresponsible. If you are carrying a child young enough to need to be in a proper car seat in a vehicle without correct protection, then you deserve to be informed of the folly of your actions and have your ignorance about crash safety dispelled.

Cars are much faster than your childhood - crashes have magnitudes higher energy that needs dissipating; none of your anecdotal (and doubtless lucky) twee stories from your own life have any relevance whatsoever. A car without proper crash structures are simply not capable of dissipating crash energy, and so the deceleration and energy will be passed to the occupants. A child is not sufficiently formed (in terms of structural integrity of its body) to cope with that sort of energy transfer, which is why child seats are mandated and so much research is spent on them.

A child has an very much higher chance of being injured or killed in a vehicle than an adult.

A person has a very much higher chance of being injured or killed in such a vehicle.

A badly or incorrectly restrained person has a very much higher chance of being injured than one properly fitted with current safety standard devices.

It deeply saddens and angers me that you care more for token compliance by ticking the legal box of equivalence than you do for the genuine care for the life of your child. Doubtless you will dismiss my comment, perhaps even flag it, but to do so only perpetuates your ignorance and irresponsible actions.
posted by Brockles at 6:13 PM on June 8, 2009 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh give me a break. Cars are much faster than in my childhood? I am actually much less than one hundred years old you know.

I'm completely aware of the safety issues, and that's not what I'm asking about. If I was looking for self-righteous lecturing, I would have made that explicitly clear.
posted by glider at 6:43 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cameras will fail.
posted by neuron at 7:01 PM on June 8, 2009

Sterlings always scared me, if you end up on your roof there is no way to get out. I realize you are willing to take this risk, but decide if you want to allow your child to take the risk with you.

I often drive a 1961 VW van with no seatbelts. The way the car is designed it is safer to go without in many circumstances. Before I offer anyone a ride in the car I explain the various ways to die by having your knees be the front bumpers. If I had a child I wouldn't let them get near it until they were good and old enough to know what that risk meant.

My point, well, i'm not sure I have one. I'm sure you will figure out a way to legally sort this all out. Rather than thinking we don't understand, because I do, having 150,000+ miles in a vw van, 75,000 without seat belts gets me in the ballpark. I am almost certain that making your own child seat is not allowed. You might get away with it, but it will likely be more dangerous than no child seat. consider taking the kid in that car until they can use a regular belt.

Also, if your pan is old enough, belts might not be legally required, if they are not, often car seats are not legally required. If belts are retrofitted, requirements for their use apply, if no belts, no requirement. You would have to find out the Canadian statutes for pre safety law vehicles. So, there is one answer to your question, but probably not the one you wanted.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 8:03 PM on June 8, 2009

Cars are much faster than in my childhood? I am actually much less than one hundred years old you know.

Well, my current car is around 3 times as heavy as my first car. It's also got around 5 or 6 times the power and is capable of 50% more speed - it's not just about the speed, but about the energy of a collision, as I made clear if you'd only read my post. Weight of the average vehicle, inexorably rising every year, is an issue in crash energy calculations just as the average speed of road traffic is. This is fact. Every year, accidents involving heavier and heavier vehicles can produce more energetic collisions and higher consequences for occupants that are ill equipped to cope with these collisions. Yet you approach these potential accidents in your kit car of zero engineering in terms of crash safety and assume you are immune because you managed not to fall off a tractor when you were a kid.

Don't dismiss my point with lack of knowledge. Face your responsibilities and the dangers that they really do represent and tell me you just don't care, if you want, but don't use your lack of knowledge to pretend that this is not an issue.

It is abundantly apparent that you very much are not aware of the safety implications. Earlier on you guffawed at the "pay-off of car seats in terms of safety versus cost". Safety versus COST? The fucking COST of your child's life?

You put cost of the safety of your child below the vanity of your desire to have her join you in your toy car. I simply do not have the words for such a decision.
posted by Brockles at 8:28 PM on June 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'd talk to the local cops. Regardless if its legal or not, you will be pulled over if most (if not just "a few") cops think its illegal. Ask anybody that has street-legal mods to their cars about how often they go to court to get their citation dismissed. Although...that is in the US...and maybe Canada is better about this.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:51 AM on June 9, 2009

Response by poster: It would take a pretty insane accident to flip a car as low as a Sterling. With quick-releases on the side windows it would also be pretty easy to get out of -- no worries there.

As to Brockles, I'm not dismissing your posts because of your lack of knowledge, I'm dismissing them because they're not answering my question. Your arguments are silly, and if they had any validity, I'd drive an armoured car weighed down with lead so as to win any potential inertial argument with another vehicle. Actually, if your arguments had any validity, I'd walk.
posted by glider at 7:03 AM on June 9, 2009

I'd drive an armoured car weighed down with lead so as to win any potential inertial argument with another vehicle.

You'd still die. It's about energy absorption and crush structures, hence my repeated reference to them. You really don't get it, it seems. But being as you seem to consider your own personal opinion more valid and correct than decades and millions of dollars of intense crash safety analysis, I imagine you'll just do whatever you want and scoff at the consequences.

I'd rather try and dispel your ignorance and fail than let it slide, personally.

I am genuinely sorry that you consider none of established crash dynamics to be any concern of yours. You wear a life vest when riding around in a home made boat, on your blog, despite it being unlikely that the boat would sink catastrophically - wood floats on it's own and it would just sit on the surface - yet you don't think that safety precautions in a collapsible metal can that interacts with other, potentially bigger and heavier, collapsible steel cans needs any consideration or respect at all.

I truly can't get my head around how a life vest for yourself in a situation of minimal risk is a sensible precaution, yet an inadequate home made seat installation for your child is perfectly fine.

Please do spend more time trying to modify your car to fit an off the shelf, established and proven, safety seat if you must take a 6 year old child into a fundamentally safety-compromised vehicle. How about taking out the seat and making a frame to fit it into? At least that is part of the way there.
posted by Brockles at 7:28 AM on June 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

"67. No person shall drive upon a highway a motor vehicle, other than a commercial motor vehicle, that has attached thereto any mirror or mirrors that extend more than 305 millimetres from the side of the vehicle, except when the motor vehicle is towing another vehicle. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 67."

No, you can't drive without mirrors. Cameras are not mirrors. Cameras do not pan when you move your head/eyes. I don't even know why you'd want to take a car that already lacks modern safety features and use inferior vision technology. Rear-view cameras are gadgets; mirrors are absolutely necessary.

And, if the child is small enough to be required in a car seat (<1>Chart.
posted by General Malaise at 7:51 AM on June 9, 2009

Weird. Here's that chart.
posted by General Malaise at 7:52 AM on June 9, 2009

Also, you'll note this list of child car seats that are not recommended by Transport Canada and how picky they are about them. I don't think you can build one to their specs.
posted by General Malaise at 7:53 AM on June 9, 2009

I realize this is not the question here, but the thing I'd worry about more than the safety of your own car and driving (about which you have more personal control and confidence) is the asshattery on the part of other drivers out there. Speaking as someone with extra internal hardware because a bicyclist decided to make a left turn from a right-hand lane, driving on a farm, etc. is completely separate from driving on a road with Other People's Children in control of your child's destiny.
posted by Madamina at 9:39 AM on June 9, 2009

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